I am sitting in the dining room watching Anne Mary (10) and her chess tutor going over a lesson. Since my girls are in chess tournaments each Monday, I often remark on facebook about how they are doing, and I am frequently asked, “Why chess?”
When we first started Sarah in a chess class it was because I noticed a weakness in her character. When we played family games she was very emotionally tied to the game and when she would lose- she would lose “it” if you know what I mean. Letting her have instruction in a class full of peers meant she had to learn self -control. Her chess teacher was fabulous and he gave her a love for the game, and had the added bonus of helping her learn self-control. This has spilled over into other areas of her life as well.
I also love chess because it makes you think logically. When you play it the way I do- 1 move at a time, not much planning and forethought, it is just a fun game. But when you play it like a pro, it can challenge even the smartest thinker. It makes you consider all possibilities- both yours and your opponent’s.
I think it helps with patience. You have to wait however long your opponent wants to take for his or her move. It also teaches you to be less careless and thoughtless. Once you touch a piece you are forced to move it. It also teaches much about human nature. Some people are quick to move, others thoughtful. Some people play aggressively. Some play thoughtlessly, some conservatively. You must always adjust your game for your opponent, and yet fight to maintain control of the game.
It is also an equalizing game. Children and adults can play together and compete equally. Anne Mary and Sarah are often paired against people decades older than them, and they can compete fairly. This means that they have to behave like adults, use self-control and good sportsmanship.
My girls really enjoy chess, they enjoy the fun familiarity they have with the chess folks each Monday night- between the games they laugh, cut-up, play pick-up games and talk about life. Anne Mary is most interested in playing pick up games, Sarah is most interested in the social aspects. I spend the time clipping and sorting my coupons and chatting with the teenagers about their games, their lives, their school, etc. We also see this as a ministry time….we get to meet and enjoy lots of folks outside of our typical “homeschool/church” friends circle. Sarah brings chess goodies almost every week, too…..and some of these folks have told us it is the only “home-baked” goodies they ever get. Of course, Sarah is THRILLED to have a reason to bake brownies or cookies every Monday.
So, there is the long answer.